In 1909 the millionaire French banker, idealist and philanthropist Albert Kahn embarked on an humanitarian project to reconcile the people of the world through communication. His vision - to use the new autochrome process patented by the Lumiere brothers in 1903 to create a colour photographic record of, and for, the peoples of the world to promote a cross-cultural understanding and foster peace.
"Life. We must seize it wherever it is, abroad, in the street, everywhere." (Albert Kahn 1860 - 1940)
Kahn realized that photography and cinema were ideal mediums for documenting mankind's heritage. Under the aegis "Archives of the Planet", he sent photographers to more than 50 countries to create a "photographic inventory" of the planet. His goal was to commit to memory the different aspects of human activity, customs and practices, which he recognized were on the verge of collapse. Kahn's timing was often impeccable, and the "Archives" capture, among other things, the struggle many countries faced as traditional culture was confronted by the effects of war and globalization.
The "Archives of the Planet" include some 183,000 metres of film, 4000 stereoscopic plaques and 7200 autochromes.